Plea to de-register political parties having names with caste, religious connotations should be decided by Parliament: Delhi High Court

These are policy issues and they need to be dealt with by the Parliament, says court

Updated - December 15, 2023 03:08 am IST

Published - December 14, 2023 11:48 pm IST - New Delhi

The petition referred to political parties such as Hindu Sena, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Indian Union Muslim League as examples of names with religious connotations. File.

The petition referred to political parties such as Hindu Sena, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Indian Union Muslim League as examples of names with religious connotations. File. | Photo Credit: ANI

The Delhi High Court on December 14 observed that the plea seeking de-registration of political parties having names with caste, religious, ethnic or linguistic connotations has to be decided by the Parliament as it is not in the domain of judiciary.

“These are policy issues and they need to be dealt with by the Parliament. We don’t make laws...If we decide this, we will be entering into the policy domain,” the court said, hearing a petition by lawyer Ashwini Kumar Upadhyay.

Mr. Upadhyay said while individuals could not seek vote in the name of religion or caste, political parties could be formed using religious connotations which could not be permitted.

“I cannot say I am a Hindu, please vote for me. But a political party can be formed in the name of Hindu Samaj Party. That is the issue. Elections must be free not only from money power but also from caste power and communalism,” Mr. Upadhyay argued.

The court, however, said, “You are talking about the names of these parties. Name is not the clincher. You have to see the policies of the political parties. You will have to see how they are functioning”.

The High Court further said people would not vote for just the name of political parties and their policies needed to be seen.

The Centre’s counsel said it did not wish to submit a response to the petition.

In his plea, Mr. Upadhyay contended that the use of names with religious connotations or symbols similar to the national flag or emblem might prejudicially affect the poll prospects of a candidate and would amount to a corrupt practice under the Representation of the People Act (RPA), 1951.

The petition referred to political parties such as Hindu Sena, All India Majlis-e-Ittehadul Muslimeen and Indian Union Muslim League as examples of names with religious connotations and said this was “against the spirit” of the RPA and the Model Code of Conduct.

The Election Commission had in its reply filed in 2019 said that in 2005 it took a policy decision not to register any political party having a name with religious connotations and thereafter, no such party had been registered.

However, any such party registered before 2005 would not lose its registration for having a name with a religious connotation, the poll panel had said.

The High Court posted the case for further hearing on May 7, 2024.

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